After a bit of a quiet spell on the blog, we were due to visit Cornwall, so stopped in Windsor on the way to check out its Royal connections…
On our way to the south west, we decided to have an overnight stop in Windsor, famous for its Royal connections. Being halfway to our Cornish destination, it seemed the ideal place to stop, and that would also give us time to explore what the town had to offer.
Naturally, we’d had a heatwave over the summer and it started to rain on the day we arrived in the town. Never letting a minor downpour dampen our spirits (see what I did there?) we got lucky with a car parking space relatively close to the town centre and wandered off to see what was about.
The answer came very swiftly – what was about, was people. Lots and lots of people. There might be murmurs about how town centres are dying, but no-one told Windsor. On a very busy day, it is a fight-through-the-crowds scenario.
You can understand why. Windsor Castle dominates the town: it is, as you would expect, a very picturesque part of the world, although the view is slightly marred by the thousands of people milling around (and I mean, thousands: the queue to get in the Castle must have been at least a quarter of a mile long). We didn’t go in, as we didn’t have the time really – but you certainly get an appreciation of the scale of the place from the outside. If you want to see the inside of the Castle, you’re looking at a long wait and (at time of writing) £17.75 per adult.
The Great Park sits alongside the castle, and it’s a great view. Stand at one end of the park and you can see right down to the other – and since we’re talking about a park that’s 5,000 acres in size, that’s a pretty sizeable distance. The Copper Horse statue, of King George III on top of Snow Hill, can be seen over two and a half miles away. We didn’t walk to the other end on account of the fact that we were too lazy to do it we didn’t have the time, but I am slightly kicking myself for this, because I am told there are some great views of the Castle from there.
We popped in to The Parish Church of St. John The Baptist, near the Castle. This holds a painting of “The Last Supper” – we considered this well worth looking at, as it’s described as a “national treasure”. It’s certainly quite something to stand in the Church and look up at this piece of history, it being over 350 years old. I also appreciated that you didn’t have to pay for it: I therefore put some coins in the donation box before heading out.
We took a walk along the riverside. Top tip: if you are considering doing this, take adequate protection against swans, as there are hundreds of the blighters. If you feed them, as we observed one poor soul doing, you will never be able to shake them off and they will always expect food. I imagine that people get back to their cars, or however they got to Windsor, to find that these same swans are hitching lifts on the roof.
These graceful, yet over-the-top creatures aside, the walk is very pleasant and we observed various craft moving up and down the river – everything from rowers to pleasure boats. And the sun even came out, which is always a bonus.
Our room for the night was booked in The Oakley Court, just down the road, which my other half had raved about. She had wanted to go there, I suspect, for its horror connections as she is a big fan – various movies such as the Dracula series were filmed there. Naturally, I’m not. It is not in my nature to sit through a horror film – I tried it with The Purge recently and had to keep looking down at the cinema floor whilst pretending to be enjoying it – so I had to hope that the hotel would live up to what was a very good reputation.
Our room overlooked the River Thames and a lovely lawn which you could wander across. It had a very comfy bed, lovely bathroom and a TV welcoming us in person when we arrived. For someone who is more used to staying in budget motels, this was a welcome place to stay for the night. We visited the hotel’s spa in the evening to hit the pool, visit the sauna and steam room, and soothe our tired muscles in the jacuzzi, before eating and having a very enjoyable drink in the bar.
It was a gorgeous place to spend the night, before we continued our road trip to Cornwall in the morning. Obviously, other hotels are available, but we were glad we made this choice. It’s nice to have a bit of luxury once in a while – we would be back to B&Bs for the rest of this trip.
The following morning over breakfast, we discussed our plans for getting to Cornwall – it’s an age-old debate, apparently: M4 & M5, or A303 / A30? My girlfriend looked at me with a hint of “does it really matter?” in her face, before gently advising me that I could make the final decision and that, in fact, we really didn’t need to spend half an hour talking about it.
I decided on the second option, thinking that it would be nice to stop at Stonehenge on the way, and with that thought, we hopped in the car and left this part of Berkshire.